The Best Vacation Ever {Part 3}

Part 1 and Part 2!

Friday, July 8th

The first of two consecutive days at sea. The day consisted of eating (duh)…

IMG_2067

…walking around by myself…

IMG_2070

…relaxing…

IMG_2069

Christie and her dad got 1st and 2nd in the mini golf competition!

…the Men’s International Belly Flop Competition (as ridiculous and hilarious as it sounds), and some other random activities. But the highlight by far

IMG_2077

I MET US THE DUO.

If you don’t know about them, they’re a married couple who sing together, and they’re pretty famous. Daliza and I saw them in concert two years ago in Orlando!

Here’s how this went down:

I’m walking along the “Boardwalk” with my friend Monica and her parents. I catch Carissa (the girl pictured above) from the corner of my eye walking with her parents. I do a double take and see her famous tattoo on her arm, but I’m not 100% sure it’s her. Monica and her parents don’t know who Us the Duo is, but they encourage me to see if it’s really them (after 30 seconds of “ahhhhh I don’t know…it’s fine…I won’t go…but wait…”).

I decide to stalk Carissa for a minute, and in less than 10 seconds I see Michael (her husband with an unmistakable curly man bun) sitting at the tequila bar, ordering some daiquiris. I go in for the kill:

I’m so sorry to bother you, but are you Us the Duo? (I knew it was them for sure at that point, but I thought it was polite to ask anyway.)

They introduce themselves (as if I didn’t already know their names, haha) and we all hug. Carissa’s dad takes a couple photos for us, and my cheeks are TREMBLING as I smile for the photo. What I feel like:

giphy-10

[source]

They ask for my name twice and say, “Hopefully we get to see you around the ship again!” I cry inside.

A quick couple small slices of pizza before a 2.5-hour show that afternoon.

IMG_2078

Now, it was not my intention to stalk Michael and Carissa (I’m a fangirl, but I try to be cool, ya know), but my parents coincidentally grabbed seats right next to Us the Duo and their families for the matinee showing of Mamma Mia! I came in late because I went to the bathroom, so when I saw that they were right there, I freaked out.

a) It’s Us the Duo again.

b) They definitely think I’m stalking them.

c) I had to squeeze past them in the aisle, probably smelling a little bit like sweat and ocean spray.

I got to chat with Carissa’s dad though, who said my parents are amazing dancers (he saw them at the club the night before lol).

IMG_2082

should have changed out of my athletic clothes // peep Michael and Carissa doing their social media celebrity thing

IMG_2081

nervously playing with my pinky ring

I have to take a second to thank Madre for loving taking photos as much as I do and thus for capturing these special moments.

Anyway, Mamma Mia! was Broadway quality and so fun to watch!

After a 16 minute workout at the fitness center, I showered for that time of day again…DINNER.

IMG_2084

Royal Seafood Salad for appetizer

IMG_2085

Thai Chicken

IMG_2087

Classic soufflé with vanilla Grand Marnier sauce

IMG_2089 IMG_2090

shared a couple bites of Ben’s baked Alaska

I’m a new fan of soufflé! I think the table shared one order of prime rib that night as well. I had a couple bites, and it was divine. This vacation assured me that I’m not becoming a vegan anytime soon.

Later that night, we went to two game shows that were wildly entertaining. My parents turned into different people during those game shows.

At around 11pm, my parents headed to the Dazzles club for some more dancing, so Ben and I joined them. Guess who walked in on me while I was doing the Macarena with only one other little boy on the dance floor???

Us

the

Duo.

I kinda sorta danced the Electric Slide with them later. At the end of the night, my family got to meet them and chat with their family as well. Me all night in my head: “Is this real!?!?”
IMG_2155 IMG_2158

Michael’s mom wanted to hop into the photo!

IMG_2161

“He dislocated his shoulder on the FlowRider.”

IMG_2164

Michael and Carissa are incredibly down to earth and easy to talk to! (p.s. they’re tight with Tori Kelly NBD.)

What a top-notch way to end a Friday, am I right?

Saturday, July 9th

Last day on the cruise 😦

I decided to go way out of my comfort zone for breakfast and get mostly savory foods, including something called “vegetable upma”— some sort of grain with vegetables and spices. I loved it!

IMG_2102 IMG_2103

also pineapple + split a blueberry muffin with mom

I somehow got lost from everyone when we split ways after breakfast, so I spent some time planning out these blog posts and writing thank you letters to some of the crew members who served us the whole week. Eventually, I went to lunch and rock climbing with Monica and my uncle.

IMG_2145 IMG_2147

Took some groovy photos with Mort the squirrel (“jungle rat/mouse lemur”) from the movie Madagascar.

IMG_2110

Over at the fitness center, I did an impromptu cardio workout on the bike for 30 minutes while Monica and Ben cheered me on. When they left, I stayed to do an upper body and core workout.

Our last dinner of the cruise was delightful and as epic as the first dinner we had on the cruise.

IMG_2142

scallops and chorizo

IMG_2148

roasted turkey with brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes apple bread dressing (!!!) and cranberry sauce added on the side later

IMG_2151

warm apple strudel a la mode

The night ended with a game show based on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, where Ben went up for only one round because neither he nor the audience knew the shape of a British twenty-pence coin.

(It’s a freaking heptagon, by the way.)

We stayed in the same venue afterwards to spectate some superstar karaoke. Holy talent on that ship!

And finally, dancing at Dazzles as our last huzzah! With our friends Us the Duo, of course (I promise we were there before they arrived…although I left and came back after Ben called me that they were there. I’m creepy, I get it).

IMG_2193 IMG_2205

This was the singer at the Dazzles nightclub all week. She and her husband and their band are super talented! It was actually so sweet to see Michael and Carissa cheering them on from the dance floor like fans too.

IMG_2195 IMG_2196

#UsTheFamily

I want to go to their Dublin show so badly this fall, but they’re sold out!

In case it wasn’t obvious, this cruise was the experience of a lifetime. Thank you to all who made it happen, especially my parents ♥︎

201504_1140_ahdhb

[source]

Sunday, July 10th

We had our last breakfast on the cruise at 6 am before disembarking.

IMG_2168

My family went to Mass before we met up with our friends in Miami for some tourism and lunch.

IMG_2183 IMG_2184

Miami Beach

IMG_2187 IMG_2190

walking in 92 degrees at 10 AM should not happen more than once a year

IMG_2176

IMG_2169 IMG_2170

IMG_2177 IMG_2181

Farmers’ Market beauties

IMG_2172

a parking meter that accepts change for feeding people who are homeless!

IMG_2215 IMG_2216

fresh rolls, lettuce wraps, and green papaya salad for lunch

Our families parted ways after lunch and a sweaty walk back to our cars. Four hours of driving later, dinner was Greek!

IMG_2220

falafel to share

IMG_2219

chicken salad for me

Ben and Jerry’s awaited us the freezer (you can’t out-dessert me).

IMG_2221

a few spoonfuls from each 🙂

Monday, July 11th

Pop and I had a 4:30 AM wakeup for our flight back to New York. Madre kindly dropped us off at the airport, where I had a salad with walnuts, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, and blue cheese for breakfast (my brain was not functioning quite right at that hour, and I really wanted veggies).

IMG_2224

In flight snack:

IMG_2227

I slept the whole flight, not surprisingly. Back at home in NY, I did a quick 12 minute workout before showering and heading to a full day of work!

Back to reality, and I cannot complain at all.


These were some looooooooong recap posts. I’m keeping these posts as my “vacation diary”, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading too!

So tell me:

Have you ever run into a celebrity unexpectedly?

Have you heard of Us the Duo?

Do you like soufflé?

Have you seen your parents become different people in a different setting?

Weekend Confessions

weekend confessions

It’s been a while since I confessed to you all (because I don’t already bare my innermost thoughts to you on a weekly basis already).

So some confessions from the weekend:

Confession #1: I watched Me Before You with Daliza on Friday night, and I was crying my eyes out with all the other middle school girls in the theater. In my defense, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room except for Daliza’s. She was laughing at the rest of us.

tumblr_o3ktzaL2LU1ulesryo1_1280

[source]

Confession #2: I loved and hated the movie. Loved because it was a very sweet romance (I’m a sucker). Plus, British accents. Hated because I have some qualms about the ending.

Confession #3: After the movie, I went home for a really cute baking date at home with a British guy ❤

DSC_2387

Cookie & Kate’s banana bread in muffin form

That guy would be Jamie Oliver. On Youtube. It was like a Skype cooking date, except we were cooking different things and he has no idea I exist.

DSC_2388

fresh out of the oven with a big smear of cinnamon raisin peanut butter from Stowe + glass o’ milk!

Confession #4: Dad’s birthday was on Saturday, but he did more work and service than I (and many people) did that day. He’s a star.

DSC_2389

Saturday’s breakfast: full fat Greek yogurt with cinnamon, nutmeg, chia seeds, banana, banana muffin, and almond butter

Confession #5: Mom and I bought so much {rather expensive} food at the farmers’ market on Saturday with the reasoning that “we are supporting the locals.”

IMG_1386 IMG_1393 IMG_1394

I’m sorry, how many dollars?

IMG_1399

foraging in my natural habitat

I love special nut butters, but there are very few times I am willing to drop $13 for a standard jar.

Confession #6: I totally snacked my way through lunch at the farmers’ market. I love how you never fail to get excessive amounts of carbs and cheese at farmers’ markets.

IMG_1388

side confession: this fresh apple waffle was probably the best waffle I’ve EVER eaten — so doughy!

IMG_1395

IMG_1396

this apple strudel is legit

IMG_1390 IMG_1397

side confession: this tasted no different from chocolate cow milk, but that’s not a bad thing

Confession #7: I may never get tired of tacos.

IMG_1411

one carne enchilada + one chicken taco

Pop chose a local Mexican restaurant for his birthday dinner, and Mom and I could not be more pleased with his decision 😉

IMG_1408

he got a huge frozen margarita for his special day — atta boy

IMG_1409

chicken and pork chilaquiles as an appetizer to share

Confession #8: I always forget how wonderful one-on-one walks are. Pop and I took a late night walk through our humid and dark neighborhood. Good convo with a great man.

Confession #9: I indulged in more sweets on Pop’s birthday than on my own birthday. The farmers’ market lured Madre and I into buying many baked goods, sooooo, like, you gotta eat some while they’re fresh, right?

DSC_2391

a slice of apple strudel a la mode + a piece of this gluten/dairy/grain/everything-free blueberry scone

Confession # 10: I play eenie-meenie-miney-mo (sp?) for a lot of my trivial life decisions. Example: yesterday’s breakfast was a toss-up between three of Amanda’s recipes: oatmeal cookie dough smoothie, banana oat french toast bake, and chunky monkey pancakes.

DSC_2394

banana oat french toast bake won – topped with cinnamon raisin pb + glass o’ milk

Confession #11: I put Greek yogurt on my beef yesterday.

DSC_2395

LISTEN. It’s like sour cream if it’s full fat Greek yogurt (I’m saying this mostly to defend myself from my non-blogger friends, who think that even peanut butter with yogurt is weird).

DSC_2396

also had a hunk of a huge cheese biscuit…from the farmers’ market

Confession #12: The workout I did on Saturday left me quiiiiiite sore on Sunday. It was:

5 rounds of 10 Bulgarian split squats each leg + 3 wall walks. Then…

3 rounds (30 sec work, 10 sec rest):

  • burpees
  • alternating split lunges with 10# DB
  • toe touch + split sit-up
  • push-up with knee tap
  • high knees
  • heel tap burpees

I’m sorry. Half of those exercises probably mean NOTHING to you, because they are not conventional exercises that have real names.

Confession #13: When I did this 60 minute vinyasa yoga with Leigha Butler yesterday, I spent about 25% of the time staring at her doing poses beyond my anatomical capacity.

Confession #14: When I went on a walk with Madre yesterday, I was walking at maybe 2 mph because my butt was so sore.

IMG_1430

a slow incline that felt like a mountain – but look at how mystical this is!

IMG_1431

Confession #15: We secretly live near a rainforest.

IMG_1434

…that happens to have evergreens

Confession #16: I decided to watch home videos with mom last night because all I wanted were warm fuzzies.

Confession #17: Dinner last night was pita bread and veggies with hummus, these baked zucchini, and desserts…from the farmers’ market.

DSC_2398

DSC_2399

Hope you all have a fantastic week! Support local businesses 🙂

So tell me:

What is your experience with farmers’ markets? Do you get giddy like I do? Do you give in to buying more expensive things than you normally would to #SupportLocal?

Do you ever play eenie-meenie-miney-mo to make life decisions?

Two fun things you did this weekend!

What do you think of Me Before You if you read/saw it?

10 Out of 10

…I’m not talking about Paul Walker (RIP).

paul-walker-170863_w1000

[source]

Even though it IS #mancrushmonday.

I’m giving a 10/10 to these past three days! My uncle has been asking us how we rate every day on this vacation on a scale from 1-10 (10 being the best), and I’ve given everything 7 or higher. Mall day was an 8 and Disney World was a 7.5, but this weekend has shown even higher ratings on my radar!

MiMM

Joining the marvelous Monday party on Katie‘s blog!

Friday: Madeira Beach and Bubba Gump

Ranking: 8

This was my first time going to Madeira beach, which is on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. The waters are considerably warmer (like, almost HOT) than the Atlantic waters, and the waves are pretty calm. It’s two hours away, so we stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant called Ben Thanh for lunch.

DSC_9640

Grilled pork vermicelli bowl

photo 1

Power napping!

It was a perfect day to be at the beach! We swam a bit, collected shells, kicked around a soccer ball, and built a sand castle that someone ended up stealing. Hmph. We didn’t even get to take a picture of it, but it was a fabulous castle. I also attempted handstands. I flipped over three times.

madeira 3

Once we worked up an appetite at the beach, we cleaned up and walked over to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for dinner. “Run Forrest, Run!”

bubba gump

There are little notches under the cups so that they can hook onto each other. Magic = ruined.

I ordered the gumbo and house salad, and they were very meh. I had about three bites of the gumbo because it was WAY too salty, and the house salad was average. I ended up sharing my aunt’s seafood pasta and Daliza’s mac and cheese (so good!).

Even though we were stuffed, as we were driving home, my aunt spotted a shake shop with a really long line, so she exclaimed: “That’s gotta be a GOOD shake shop!” Sooooooo we went and got shakes there.

shake shop

Mint shake for me!

I drank as much as I could, but this thing was huge, so I finished about ¾ of it. Sugar coma.

Saturday: “Staycation” with Daliza

Ranking: 8.5

While my mom took my aunt, uncle, and cousins to St. Augustine, Daliza and I slept in and stayed home for the day. We started with a leisurely breakfast and a flashback movie— Mulan (aka my hero).

After spending way to much time trying to pump up the bike wheels, we finally got to biking around my neighborhood in the hot sun.

day off daliza

Daliza said it felt like we were out there for 10 minutes, but we biked for about an hour before coming into the air-conditioned house for a refreshing lunch at 4 PM…Ha. Then we tried to hunt down alligators (by hunt down, I mean take a good picture of them) in the lake behind my house. We found one peeking out of the water!

DSC_9790

Yep, that little thing in the water would be it.

I couldn’t zoom in quite far enough to get the details, but Daliza’s video camera showed that it was an alligator for sure. After a few hours of doing that plus a whole bunch of nothing, we did an hour of Pilates before hunkering down for dinner and more Disney movies. We mini-marathoned it with Hercules and Mulan II.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a vacation from hard core vacationing…if that makes sense.

Sunday: Orlando Farmers’ Market and Cocoa Beach

Ranking: 10

I finally found my 10/10 day! Yesterday started with an early morning wake-up call (read: I overslept and my mom had to barge into my room) for 8 AM Mass and a little grocery shopping. After breakfast, we all headed downtown to the Orlando Farmers’ Market!

farmers market 1

I was overwhelmed by all the amazing food and merchandise stands there. They even had outdoor yoga classes for $5! Daliza and I might try that next Sunday. Yesterday we were just sampling all the food. ALL THE FOOD.

farmers market 2

We also encountered some fun/ferocious/freaky animals. The swans were trying to eat my little cousin. We even saw black swans!

DSC_9840

After eating, sweating, and repeating, we drove to Cocoa Beach. It was sunny and gorgeous when we got there, and the waves looked a whole lot more exciting than the ones at Madeira Beach. Daliza and I weren’t planning on swimming, so we didn’t bring our bathing suits. However, the water looked too enticing to pass up, so we bit the bullet and just bought new bathing suits there. Worth it! Even though the clouds started coming in and looking nasty. They just made the waves bigger for us!

Apparently there was a riptide, so we all had to be careful and not go out too far. Daliza and I just sang this song as we jumped over the waves.

cocoa

All the beach fun wore us out and made us READY for dinner. It was a quick drive to “Thai Thai” restaurant for some Thai and Japanese cuisine. Sushi for me, kids meal katsu chicken for Daliza. She loved it.

Then it was time to head home, finally. But first, we made a pit stop to Abracadabra Ice Cream Factory for some liquid nitrogen ice cream!

DSC_9930

They start with the cream/sugar base, you choose three toss-ins, and then they add the liquid nitrogen

abracadabra

I chose mint, oreo, and graham crackers for my ice cream concoction. We all thought the ice cream itself was just sickeningly sweet, so most of us didn’t finish. A travesty, I know. That’s enough sugar for the rest of the week.

I’m done. Peace out.

Have a wonderful day, friends!

So tell me:

About your weekend!

Do you like the beach? Waves or no waves?

What do you love the most about farmers’ markets?

Have you ever tried liquid nitrogen ice cream?